Sunday, February 21, 2010

I am a Unitarian Universalist Roman Catholic

While I was shaving on Wednesday morning, Ash Wednesday, I started wondering what I was going to give up for Lent and whether I would go to get ashes today. Then I wondered how Unitarian Universalists celebrate Ash Wednesday and Lent and outside of what I read on Boston Unitarian I don't know.

You can take the boy out of the Roman Catholic church but can you take the Roman Catholic Church out of the boy?

No, I decided you can't.

I love my new found Unitarian Universalist faith but I also love some things about my Roman Catholic faith also. Then it hit me! I can be a Unitarian Universalist Roman Catholic.

Eureka! I've found it. I have been struggling in this direction for almost 10 years and I finally have figured it out.

Now, I have faith that the Unitarian Universalists will have me with my Roman Catholicism, but I know that the Roman Catholics, the conservative ones anyway, wouldn't have me with my Unitarian Universalism.

So I struggled a bit further. Am I a Roman Catholic Unitarian Universalist or a Unitarian Universalist Roman Catholic? I decided that I have to be a Unitarian Universalist Roman Catholic just like there are Unitarian Universalist Buddhists, and Untarian Universalist Jews, and Unitarian Universalist Wiccans, Unitarian Universalists Humanists, etc.

I told a good born-again Christian friend of mine last week that I admire him the most of any one I know besides the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and he started laughing so hard he couldn't resume the conversation for at least a minute. When I said, "Rick, what is so funny?"

He said, "Dave, I thought you were a Unitarian?"

"Well, yeah," I said, "but I guess I still believe in the Trinity sometimes."

I love Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and God the Father/Mother/It, but it doesn't bother me that they are all one too.

So, how screwed up am I?

I am not going back to straight Roman Catholic, and I love Unitarian Universalism, but I also want my ashes and to practice Lent.

I think there is room in Unitarian Universalism for Roman Catholicism and so I hope that no one is offended if I refer to myself as a UURC, a Unitarian Universalist Roman Catholic. I suspect that there are many more of us out there.

If you are a UURC too can I see a show of hands?

This is article #1 in a series on Unitarian Universalist Roman Catholicism.


  1. I wonder if the priests of the Catholic Church considered giving up sex crimes for lent? Surely the Vatican is guilty of your 'moral deficient disorder as are the perpetrators of the sex crimes.

    A thorough overview of degenerate nature of the Roman Catholic Church can be found here.

    IMO, the reason so many come to UU communities is because of the corruption, intolerance and moral degeneracy --not to mention the delusionary beliefs-- of the traditional religious sects.

  2. 2 things:

    1) UU is not specifically anti-trinitarian, David. That is part of our Unitarian historical theology - that is, it is one strand of our history not our whole history - and, furthermore, it is a historical rather than contemporary theological concern among us. You're safe in your trinitarianism, if in a minority.

    2) To Anonymous: David did not say he was going back to the Vatican and abusing priests, he said he still feels a need and desire for ashes and Lent - hardly the same thing. He knows, for one thing, that UURC is a way of being religiously that the RC will not accept; he trusts that UUs wiil accept it just as they have all the other compound UU identities and spiritualities.

  3. Thank you Paul for your generous reading of me and you have my thoughts correctly.

    The sexually molesting priests are bad enough, but the cover-up by the bishops is a manifestation of the problems with the autocratic governance of the RC church. Until that changes, there is little hope, long term, for the RC faith.

    It is interesting that it took the civil authorities to bring any accountability and justice no the hierarchy.

    And yet, the RC church gave us Francis of Assisi, Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan and his brother, Phil, Dorothy Day and many others whom I greatly admire as well as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

    I think there are a lot of UURCs out there as well as UU Wiccan's, UU Buddhists, UU Jews, UU humanists, etc.

    What we have in common is our wonderful, beautiful, UU faith and we bring the best of our faith traditions along with us to enrich the whole.

    All the best,

    David Markham

  4. David,

    We celebrate Lent at my UU Christian church and I can tell you that you are most definitely not alone, particularly when it comes to desiring to stay connected to more traditional Christian rituals. I will say that my congregation is also pretty darn Protestant in many ways but--for what its worth--one of our families did get an audience with the Pope over February break!

    Have you checked out the UU Christian Fellowship at Also there is a Council of Christian Churches in the UUA, but our web page hasn't been updated in some time.

  5. Adam,

    Too bad that member of your UU congregation didn't do a citizen's arrest of the pope at that audience. That man should be in jail, along with the seven American priests given sanctuary in the Vatican because they're wanted for sex crimes against children in the USA.

    Why the reverence for criminals?

  6. David, my dearest friend in all the world is an RC monk in the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, commonly known as Trappists - Thomas Merton's order, though not at his monastery. He and I have an ongoing and ever-deepening Interfaith dialog that has taught me just how much breadth there is within RC. The Vatican and the bishops are one piece of the religious and spiritual puzzle open to Catholics...

    Every religion has things to teach people in other religions - though always either somewhat less or somewhat different than they tend to think the other should learn from them. There is much beauty within the complex thing that is Catholic spirituality and ritual.

  7. David, I have been on a path to find ways to re-embrace the things I love about RC. I admire your decision to be a UURC! I don't think I'm quite there, but there are very many things I miss about RC and would like to be open to having in my life again.

  8. Dear Kelly and Paul:

    I am very interested in reading more about what you find helpful, interesting, attractive about the Roman Catholic faith and how it can be integrated into our Unitarian Universalist faith?

    All the best,

    David Markham

  9. Sociologically, I love that the RC is not dominated by a particular class, and, while individual congregations may be dominated by a particular ethnicity, across the range of the Church its population is not classifiable by race, nationality or national origin, or ethnicity. Of course, RC does not grant equality to women and officially considers homosexuals to be "objectively disordered" and sinful if living out our God-given sexuality rather than repressing it. So, on the one hand, they have something that UUs frequently claim we wish we could have - a religion that is not just a white Yankee/Anglo upper-middle class faith culture - while, on the other hand, the RC Church is sorely lacking in the one area of inclusion that we UUs are really pretty good at, though not perfect - gender and sexuality equality.

    I have never been a Catholic, and I have had greater exposure to RC in the monastic setting than in the parish setting, so my perspective is sure to be quite different from Kelly's. With that proviso:

    I love the Liturgy of the Hours, the official common prayer of the Church for laity and clergy alike but which is less a part of the visible, public life of the Church outside monasteries. This chanting of the Psalms together with hymns, lessons, prayers, and silence is the backbone of monastic life. The scheduling makes it difficult for non-monastics to engage in its fullness, but external oblates of the various monasteries make the commitment to say/sing the Liturgy of the Hours within their lives in the outside world. A person who strictly kept the Hours would, like an observant Muslim, find times throughout the day for the liturgy. But combining and adjusting the times of Hours to suit real-world exigencies makes it doable for the devoted. I do not keep the Hours, but I do frequently end my day with the office of Compline - sometimes in Latin Gregorian chant, more often in a contemporary sung and chanted English - either way with the assistance of monastic recordings.

    I love the way the RC liturgy includes responses that can be absorbed through the pores so that the mass can wash over one and carry one along even at a minimal level of conscious participation.

    I love the font of holy water near the main entrance and the ritual of crossing oneself. It sometimes seems that our UU faith is too tied to syllogistic reasoning tied up in explanations and words words words, while such symbols and rituals as the holy water and crossing oneself, though tied to RC teachings, essentially function beyond the demand for words and explanations, entering the psyche unmediated.

    I'm certainly not smitten with everything RC. Not by a long shot. But there was a whole lot of baby that got tossed out with the Radical Reformation-al bathwater.

  10. I also appreciate the anti-materialist, anti-consumerist, anti-economic-exploitation message of pontiff after pontiff. It's mixed with other things they've got wrong, like sexism and heterosexism and so on, but it is an important message that carries greater weight for being spoken publicly by Popes.

    And I appreciate the liberation theology and the nuns and monks and priests who have, at risk of their own position, stood up to both the church and the secular establishment in ways that serve the people.

    I love the poetry of Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO, the work on gratitude that is taught and published by Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB.

  11. Curiously, I've been trying to define myself too, since I'm pretty Trinitarian and love several things in RC spirituality, but I also love what I've learnt so far about UUism, and, oddly enough, I've been even thinking of starting some sort of 'UU fellowship' around where I live (the Azores, in Portugal... I would be a pioneer if I did). I often feel like I'm trying to reconcile two pretty different things, but both are deep in my personality. In practice, it doesn't look too strange to me; after all, I've been living it myself! But if I had to explain how it works to other people, I'd be at a loss for words.

    But then again, the Tao that can be named isn't the true Tao. Right?

  12. UU may be a way of life, but it is not a Catholic way of life. You and your UU club members, ( I say this because UU is not a church or way of worship per se)...are not worshiping, you are merely associating with one another. I have been to UU club meetings several times, so I do not say this out of complete ignorance. You and your UU associates are really into Being God, not worshiping God, or at least pretending to know the truth, and are not seeking the truth. Merton sought the Truth in humility and by hard work, so did Francis, Therese of Avila, John of the Cross. UU's seeking God? I never hear the word God mentioned in a UU meeting. Do you? Do you hope for salvation? I wonder... most UU folks I know are very confused and just feel good about being accepted by a group of generally confused people who share some interesting ideas about life, mostly being critical of organized religions. Fascinating to me.

  13. I have been a Roman Catholic my whole life, including being babptized as a baby, and 13 years of Catholic private school. I love the RC church for the traditions, prayers, mass etc. etc. etc. However I have also been searching for a VERY long time for something that falls in line with my belief that all of my human brothers and sisters are equal and that there is no monopoly on truth. I have struggled with the fact that my religion which has come to mean so much to me, will not accept my LGBT brothers and sisters of God. So I recently met someone who is UU. He has become one of my dearest friends, and I have begun to research UU. It seems to be beliefs that I have always had, that I didn't know others agreed with me on. So I am very much a UU when it comes to everything I read or discussed up to this point. But I can not bring myself to leave my home in the RC church. I am emotionally and spiritually attatched to the traditions and teachings, the songs, etc. So I wonder... could I be both? I my mind and heart I am, but would both religions be ok with that. From what I have learned about UU, I believe that they would accept this. I am not sure if my RC church would. I am glad you wrote this blog, and it is good to know that I am not alone. Like you said, there are many of us out there. :)

  14. I am exactly where the previous poster is. What really is compelling me to move beyond the comfort & familiarty of the Catholic Church is that my oldest college-aged daughter has come out as lesbian and is seriously dating another girl. How can I be part of something that will not accept my child living authentically as she is? But at the UU church I visit, I miss the sense of worship & prayer.

  15. To those who may ask I will say religion is Roman Catholic, my Church is Universal Unitarian.

  16. I like that: My religion is RC, my church is UU :)
    My family is RC and it is NOT acceptable to go outside that faith but I have, secretly. UU is my church now. I am lesbian, secretly too. RC is not accepting, UU is. I know my family would condemn me to hell for UU but why? For being a good person? I've decided that I can't believe that God, if there is a God, would condemn anyone to hell for a day not to mention an eternity. I've also decided that my entrance to Heaven, if there is a Heaven, is not dependent on my "correct" understanding of Christ and God, whether God is Unitarian or Trinitarian....... there is no test. Sometimes I am trinitarian too. So yes, I think you can be a UURC but not the other way around. In UU I think you are free to find your own truth even if that encompases RC beliefs. If that wasn't so then UU would be as guilty as the RC for claiming THEY know what truth is. Just because it's RC doesn't make it wrong. furthermore, as to other comments here, there is a difference between the Catholic Faith and the Catholic Church as an institution who covered up sexual abusers. You shouldn't throw out the baby with the bath water.

    1. Dear Anonymous 4/30/12 at 9:12 PM

      There are many people who share your views and sentiments. It is comforting to know that you are not alone. Jesus is a Universalist and most of the cultural Christians have forgotten that. Most cultural Christians, unfortunately, don't follow Jesus. There are a few who call themselves Christian who actually follow the teachings of Jesus and it sounds like you are one of them. It is comforting to know you and read your comment. thank you.

  17. I was raised both Roman Catholic and Unitarian Universalist and stumbled across your blog trying to find others with similar upbringings to mine. My dad's family has been Universalist since before they merged with the Unitarians (I'm fourth generation.) I have no idea how long the Catholic part of my mom's family has been so. That said, the Catholic Church I was raised in is exceedingly liberal (I told them I was also UU and they were fine with it.)

    I am not particularly religious myself, but I have a respect for theology. You could easily embrace the universal salvation aspect of the UUs, while still accepting the Trinity. As Unitarians and Univeralists were separate, you can say that you embrace the teachings that historically belonged to the Universalist Church of America and be completely justified in your beliefs. Both organizations also shared their social beliefs prior to merging.

  18. If you do not accept the authority of the Bishop of Rome as infallible in matters of faith and morals you are not a Roman Catholic in any sense of the term. You all need to do some serious reading and research before mouthing-off even at this comment. I suggest starting on Father Robert Barron's 'Word on Fire' website and checking out some real history. Setting the bar and living up to it are two different matters altogether. The Holy Father (The Pope) has been granted an infallible charism by Jesus Christ when it comes down to interpreting scripture. He is NOT, however, impeccable in personal matters. Try looking at the totality of scripture - Old Testament and New - through the eyes of a first century Jew. The Papacy is there. As is every Catholic doctrine. Again - spend a LONG TIME with Father Robert Barron. And Steve Ray. Scott Hahn. No Apologies with Fra Joseph Mary. The Catholic story has been told by the wrong people.

  19. I've been searching for something that balances my Catholic background but is in line with my personal views and values. I love the mass, prayers and rituals associated with Catholicism. I struggle with the Catholic stance on homosexuality, inequality for women, remarriage and even family planning. I researched the American National Catholic Church, the Polish National Catholic Church and now UU. I've reconciled the fact that even though I was raised Roman Catholic, it's no longer in line with my spiritual journey. Who's to tell me that the sweet loving man I married and am now expecting a child with couldn't marry me in my RC church because he was married before (and has a son)? My amazing father passed from cancer in March, he did not attend church and was not Catholic but he lived every day treating others the way he felt was right. Who's to say he's going to hell? Who's to tell me that I should be subservient to my husband, forgo family planning to the detriment of my family's financial security or that I must condone my beloved children if they happen to be gay/bisexual? I couldn't reconcile these things as an RC and began a spiritual journey to find something that I could support and that would allow me to raise conscientious, loving, spiritual children without judging or condemning. I think the right balance as a UU Catholic is the answer. There is a Polish National Catholic Church as well as a UU church close by my new home. I plan on attending both for awhile and adopting a spiritual practice that satisfies both my beliefs and my need for the ritual and practices of the Catholic church. If I can cross myself and kneel in a UU service, I'm all in! :) Spiritual journey is a personal journey and I was raised that if it makes you a better person and better to your fellow man, than how can anyone possibly tell you you're wrong?

  20. Anonymous September 3, 2012 1:59 PM
    Whos's the only One to tell you what to do? Just follow what HE tells you to do in the Scriptures of your Bible, not the Cathechism, but the Bible. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Do not follow men, follow GOD!

  21. Only a 100% pure Satanist would reason like you do, you are truly a hypocrite and liar. Are you so blinded by Satan that you don't understand that you will burn in hell? You better start to believe in God instead of your vain (and stupid) human philosophies. You Catholics are the biggest threat to real Christians and Jews in the whole world. You are psychopathic mass-murderes and pathological liars.

    I will be a wittnes against you nesides my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Turn away from your sinfull ways or burn in hell, you will get what you deserve!

  22. I thought I was the onlybone. I am also a unitarian universalist roman catholic.

  23. I am also a Unitarian Universalist Roman Catholic. I was also ordained by the Universal Life Church and Monastery in 2012

  24. The 19th century Unitarian and Universalist (before the merger) prayer books were very stately and liturgical. I was RC, but now consider myself to be an "Old Universalist", taking my cue from the Dutch "Old Catholic Church".

    Nice blog page, and thanks for sharing.


  25. You are not alone! The early Christians were all unitarian and Apostles did not know any "trinity" since they baptised people in the name of Jesus. There are many Catholics and also clergy that are unitarian universalists in their faith. All blessings!

  26. You are not alone! There are many Catholics also clergy who are unitarian universalists in their faith. Early Christians were all unitarians and Apostles were also. They did know any "trinity" since they baptised people in the name of Jesus. There are also Bishops in Vatican who are unitarins. In the Vatican archives there is a proof of a unitarian faith, the ancient manuscripts of Gospels without Mattew 28 and other later trinitarian inserted text, but Vatican is garding them so strictly since if they reveal them the whole system will collapse. Apostolic Christianity is unitarian, Jesus is a universalist!

  27. You are not alone. I am in the same boat. I call myself a Universal Roman Cathlitarian.

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